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Double Domers can’t get enough of ND

Liz O'Donnell | Friday, March 26, 2010

Ask most Notre Dame students on campus how much they enjoy attending the University and chances are their only complaint will be about the weather.

Some students, in fact, love the University so much that they choose to spend more than four years on campus.

Commonly referred to as “Double Domers,” a number of students opt to continue their education at Notre Dame after graduation and pursue graduate degrees from the University.

“When reflecting on the qualities I desired most in a law school, I needed to look no further than what I experienced here as an undergraduate,” senior American Studies major Colleen Walter said. “Over the years, Notre Dame has been more than just a school, but a home where I feel comfortable, welcomed and challenged.”

Walter will attend law school at Notre Dame in the fall. She said her choice was easy.
The quality of the students and professors, emphasis on social justice and collegial atmosphere all create an ideal environment to study law, she said.

The category of two-time Notre Dame graduates includes a few notable alumni, such as current congressman for Indiana’s 2nd congressional district Joe Donnelly and Chief U.S. District Judge for New Mexico Martha Vasquez. Both received undergraduate degrees and law degrees from Notre Dame.

Walter said she spoke to other two-time graduates about staying on campus to complete her advanced degree.

“I know a few current law students who are Double Domers as well as some Double Domer alumni,” she said. “Those I talked to shared the same enthusiasm about their experience and encouraged me to seriously consider pursuing a similar path.”

Walter said while she considered attending law school elsewhere, staying at Notre Dame was her first choice.

“I considered other law schools but I thought Notre Dame was the best fit for me in many ways,” she said. “I love Notre Dame and I am proud that I can continue to be a part of the Irish tradition for the next three years.”

Like Walter, doctoral student Joe Brutto said he wanted to remain at Notre Dame to pursue his graduate studies. 

“I considered and applied to other schools, but Notre Dame was my first choice,” Brutto said. 

Brutto graduated from Notre Dame with a degree in political science and philosophy. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in political science with a focus on political theory and American politics.

“The main reason I chose to return to Notre Dame for grad school was the collegiality I found both within the Political Science department and between our department and other departments,” he said. “In the [Political Science] grad program, the grad students get along with one another and are interested in helping each other pursue their own interests.”
Brutto said he felt Notre Dame’s graduate studies culture differed from other universities in that it is less competitive.

“In some programs at other universities, graduate students have to compete for funding or faculty attention,” he said. “This element is completely absent from our program and I believe that it makes for much better graduate experience.”

Walter said she thinks students’ first four years here can leave them wanting more.
“I think the experience as an undergraduate here is so wonderful that many find it difficult to leave,” she said. “That dozens of students are willing to brave the South Bend winter for two or three more years certainly speaks volumes about what Notre Dame has to offer.”